The trailer of Thugs of Hindostan begins the way the trailer of Lagaan (2001) — which was narrated by Amitabh Bachchan — had began: ‘1795. Hindustan’, says the sutradhar. Both are essentially about Indians fighting near-fantastical, fictionalised battles against the oppressive East India Company. Only this time the approach is polar opposite: instead of challenging the British in a fair game of cricket, the heroes of Thugs are desi warriors who swashbuckle with swords, hoodwink, scheme, and fight for freedom.
Aamir Khan plays Firangi, a slippery, drunk, roguish mercenary from Awadh who likes to think of himself as a foreigner at heart, and has supposedly sold his soul to the British (read ‘desi’ Jack Sparrow). He has been hired by the British to defeat Aazad (Bachchan), who wears a look that recalls his turn in Eklavya (2007). Aazad is a more honourable man who makes an entry with old-school dialoguebaazi accompanied by the shriek of his pet eagle: ‘Dhaai din ki dopahri, amaavas raat ki…’
The last shot of the trailer shows Aazad and Firangi, both armed, pitted against each other.
You can expect, of course, the type of firangi Hindi that the colonisers seem to speak only in Hindi films, and there is a lot of that: ‘Mazaa aayega,’ declares Thugs‘s British antagonist (Lloyd Owen) as the title card announces a Diwali release. Somewhere in between, we get scenes with Fatima Sana Shaikh, who plays one of Aazad’s warriors, and Katrina Kaif, who plays a dancer. The overall feeling of borrowing heavily from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in the way the characters are designed, the action set-pieces (especially ones involving the ships) and the theme music is hard to shake off.
Thugs is apparently based on Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel on the ‘thugee cult’ “Confessions of a Thug.” Songs are by Ajay-Atul. Produced by Yash Raj Films and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, who wrote Dhoom 1 and 2 (and directed Dhoom 3 and Tashan). It will be dubbed in Tamil and Telugu and will release on 8 November.
Watch the trailer here: